Does your income depend on your website?

If you are a developer or digital entrepreneur probably your income is strictly dependent from one or more of your websites.

In the last few years I built a lot of e-commerce, Marketing Content Networks, Restful APIs, booking systems, and many other applications on which my and my clients’ daily income depends.

It was not easy to work on these “income critical” projects, in fact the first times I did a really bad job as a consultant.

I often got lost in technical complications and the systems were struggling to become stable. My clients got angry because every time something did not work they risked losing money.

I saw for the first time my customers dissatisfied with my work.

Instinctively I thought they were a pain in the ass.

BUT… as a professional…

I learned on my skin how serious a software issue can be in a booking system where transited thousands of euros per month 😲.

The problem

Develop a software platform is a really hard job, the continuous changes to improve and adapt the software to the business needs often require to refactor large parts of the code. In many cases more then one developer are working simultaneously on the same code base and bugs and errors are commonplace.

The main problem was that the incident reports arrived directly from users and receive complaints directly from users kept me at a disadvantage in front of the business owner, and kept the business owner at a disadvantage in front of its users.

Before a user takes the time to send a report, there are 10 others who have simply left the website immediately.

The issue can afflict many users before you are made aware of them. And this is certainly a problem that can cause money loss.

Another important aspect is that large parts of these web projects are built on top of third-party code. CMS for content management like Wordpress or Magento that are also the subject of many security attacks, or server side frameworks with a lot of plugins and external packages with a lot of code updated out of your control.

The problem is clear but the solution is not…

We need to find out downtime and performance issues before website’s users do.

Hard coding

The first actions as developer is insert some alert in the app. Catch exception or errors in general and send me an email.

Should be useless to explain why hard coding is a really bad practice because you are risking to introduce other bug source gaining nothing in flexibility and reliability 😒.

But apart from bad practices the main mistake is another: You are thinking from developer point of view not users point of view. Exceptions is only one of the reasons your web site could be unusable from your users perspective.

Server load, DNS issue, SSL certificate inconsistence, high download time of your contents and many others reasons requires to monitor your website from external side and not limited to catch exceptions in the code.

We want find a way to solve the problem in a long-term way otherwise we will continue to have unhappy customers even for all the systems we will develop in the future. ☔️

Command line tools

All parameters above are well known indexes to measure uptime and general status of your website usability used by network analyst or engineers focused on performance.

If you search on google you can find many topics on how to know ttfb (time to first byte) of your website. Usually engineers use some cli tool like CURL.

I want to go straight to the point by saying that we are not interested in the command line tools for one shot analysis. Without continuous monitoring and data history we can use them just to scratch our itches.

Monitoring tools

It seems obvious that we need more modern tools to solve our problem:

Find out downtime and performance issues before website’s users do.

And the most important requirement is to not improve complexity of our everyday work otherwise the situation could only get worse.

Searching on google you may be surprised at how many solutions exist for monitoring a remote URL. I have spent weeks trying dozens of applications, free and paid tools, I lost a lot of time.

As often happens in niche markets it seems that simplicity is not important to any of them. Nobody wants to give their users the opportunity to understand what they are buying and using.

Incredible complex features, tedious configuration processes, not to mention usability.

I’m sure that buying one of these products you will collect a lot of useful information, but will you be able to find them? Will you have time to filter all the background noise to get to the few data that really make the difference for you? Will you be able to study everything provided to achieve your specific goal?

Each of them is obviously the industry leader 😅 and the first thing you think is that the problem is you… you do not have enough skills, you do not have enough time, you’re still too far behind… bla bla bla… It’s a normal emotional reaction especially when we are under pressure due to the phone calls of your angry clients, but…

If it were a lack of the market?

Gist Metrics

This experience pushed me to explore this new opportunity to launch a brand new product built to help me of knowing any issue of our “income critical” applications before users do.

After collecting all the useful information about critical indexes we have published detailed contents because we and our customers are not full time network analyst so it is important to have a clear explanation of what’s happening to our systems without spend hour to search on google “what is this? And that?”

Today, GistMetrics is a fundamental asset for our company and for our network of customers and holds essential information to ensure that our businesses never stop.

I invite you to send me a message to tell me about your project and I will be happy to evaluate how to give you privileged access as saas:gist reader 👓.

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